Today's blog takes a look at 5 benefits to having your staff work remotely, and how you can capitalise on these benefits to ensure ongoing health, wellness and productivity.
Can you believe that it's been more than 500 days since President Ramaphosa sent all of us non-essential workers home under level 5 lockdown?
Whilst those first few weeks saw many people managers scrambling to equip their employees with the tools they needed to work effectively from home - whilst at the same time setting reasonable KPIs in a time of increasing uncertainly and rising pandemic-related anxiety - what quickly became apparent was that employees could be productive and focused when not in the office.
More than 500 days down the road of remote working and I think it's fair to say that even the most anti remote-work manager has come to see that there are some distinct advantages to having colleagues work from home. But how do you capitalise on these benefits and ensure that staff stay healthy at home?
We've rounded up what we believe to be the 5 main benefits of having your staff work remotely, as well as some of the ways we think managers can further improve on these to optimise home-based colleagues health and wellness. Here they are - in no particular order.
1. Increased productivity and performance
Working from home (usually) leads to fewer interruptions, a quieter noise level, and fewer (or more efficient) meetings. When you add in the time employees save by not having to commute, you can see why remote workers typically have more time and fewer distractions, and why - combined - these result in increased productivity - a huge benefit for both employers and employees.
When done right, remote work allows employees and companies to focus on performance - a much better indicator of productivity than the hours clocked at a desk.
A 2020 survey by FlexJobs found that workers who thought they might be more productive working from home actually were more productive when working remotely. 51% of their respondents said that they are more productive working from home during the pandemic. When asked why, many cited fewer interruptions and quieter work environments as part of the reason for increased productivity.
However, with increased productivity does come the risk of burnout. An article from Forbes in September 2020 stated that "Burnout is hitting an all time high. More than two thirds, or 69%, of employees are experiencing burnout symptoms while working from home, and this influx is impacting both business productivity as well as the overall health of the workforce. So the question becomes "what are you as a manager doing to ensure that your teams don't suffer from burnout?". Forbes has some excellent suggestions in their article.
2. Healthier employees
Working from home can also mean healthier employees: more time for physical activity, the ability to make healthier meal choices at home, and - most importantly - less exposure to common workplace illnesses such influenza and gastroenteritis can all positively impact employee health and wellbeing.
And healthier employees mean lower rates of absenteeism and presenteeism for employers, both of which have a direct impact on the bottom line. We've written a number of posts on the real cost of absenteeism and presenteeism, so healthier, more productive employees are definitely something to smile about.
However, have you thought about talking to your employees about safeguarding their health by ensuring that their home offices stay hygienic? Take a look at our blog post 5 ways to keep your home office hygienic for some suggestions.
3. Financial savings for businesses
According to Global Workplace Analytics, a typical company can save around $11,000 per year for every employee who works from home at least some of the time. These cost savings come primarily from reduced overheads. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. employers have been saving over $30 billion per day by allowing employees to work from home.
Companies across sectors where there are a shortage of skills are currently desperate to find stand-out ways to attract and retain staff. A recent poll by London-based workplace benefits firm Juno reported a significant spike in demand for "non-conventional workplace benefits", notably the ability to book a home cleaner. In addition, the poll found plant deliveries were its clients' most popular choice of perk, followed closely by meal kits and fitness classes.
Fewer colleagues at work means a definite decrease in the office hygiene consumables your office will require - such as soap, paper towel and hand sanitiser. Not to mention what you're saving on tea and coffee! What about using a fraction of those savings to offer colleagues a "non-conventional workplace benefit" that includes sending them consumables like hand sanitiser and IT sanitising solution to ensure that they can maintain a hygienic home work space.
4. Positive environmental impact
Though commercial properties are becoming more energy-efficient, they still use large amounts of energy for heating, cooling and lighting, to name just a few. It’s estimated that up to 40% of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions come from buildings.
Which means that businesses who have the majority of their workforce at home have vastly reduced their environmental impact, by reducing the amount of electricity and water used on site. Not to mention office consumables like printer paper and ink. And with these environmental benefits also come definite cost savings.
5. Better hygiene levels in the office
Sad but true - fewer colleagues IN the office means that the hygiene levels are likely to be better for those that are there. Fewer hands touching shared surfaces in the office means less chance of the common cold and food poisoning doing the rounds.
No matter how many - or how few - colleagues are in the office though, it's essential to make sure that your office maintains optimal hygiene levels. Read our previous blog on 5 easy ways to keep your office hygienic in 2021 for some inspiration.
Download our Ultimate guide to hand hygiene to help you build a thorough hand hygiene strategy in your business and minimise cross-contamination for those colleagues who are still coming into the office.